For the Muslim community at Cornell this year, this year’s final weeks will be more complicated than usual. For the first time in nearly a decade, Ramadan — a month-long holy period that requires adherents to avoid eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset — will coincide with the study period.
When I decided to put on the hijab, I was 18 years old. It was the summer of 2015, right before I left for college. It also just happened to be before Donald Trump announced that he was running for president, before Ahmed Mohamed’s arrest, before the hashtag “Stop Islam” trended, before the Muslim Ban made headlines, before countless anti-Islam protests and hate crimes, and certainly before I overheard a professor saying, “it’s a bad time to be a Muslim.”
And even before all of that, I had prepared myself for the worst. Needless to say, it wasn’t long before wearing a hijab began to feel like I was voluntarily putting a target on my forehead. Walking around campus my first few weeks at Cornell was intimidating to say the least.
It has been many months since the end of Ramadan, the holy month of Islam. Here in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, expats who compose almost 90 percent of the population are left in despair as they face 120 degrees Fahrenheit heat, restaurants closed until 7 p.m. and roads filled with hasty drivers. During this month in which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset in accordance with one of the five pillars of Islam, misunderstandings between Muslims and non-Muslims widen. Some Muslims get annoyed at some non-Muslims who disrespect their fasting by eating in front of them. Other non-Muslims are displeased by the fact that they are not to eat in public during Ramadan.
Raza Rumi, a journalist and Scholar in Residence at Ithaca College, explained the roots of extremism in Pakistan and described the efforts to deter radicalism in a lecture last week. “The country has in the last decade or so suffered huge losses,” Rumi said. “Between 50 and 80 thousand Pakistanis have died in pure acts of violence and terrorism across the country.”
Rumi, a Pakistani himself, said these deaths include those of civilians and members of the military. Rumi said there have been attacks in airports and headquarters of intelligence agencies and blamed these losses the Pakistani Taliban. The Pakistani government has been involved in an operation called Zarb-e-Azb, which targets militant hideouts in Northwest Pakistan, he said.
Seventeen professors and students gathered around a table yesterday to hear Sidney Griffith, professor at Catholic University of America, speak about 10th-century Baghdad. Griffith used the personage of Yahaya ibn Adi, a prominent Christian Intellectual of the time, as a tool to describe Baghdad at the time: a society comprised of Jews, Christians and Muslims willing to correspond and talk with each other.